March 8, 2019

Crisis: How Mad Is Trump, Cornel West on Sanders, Nuclear Arms, On Propaganda, Ankle Monitors

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from March 8, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Friday, March 8, 2019.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than three years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

Selections from March 8, 2019:
1. Something is seriously wrong with Donald Trump
2. Cornel West on Bernie, Trump, and Racism

3. Donald Trump's Nuclear Doctrine Threatens Human Life on Earth

4. The Propaganda Multiplier

5. Big Brother Steps Closer as Parents Shackle Teens to Ankle Monitors
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Something is seriously wrong with Donald Trump

This article is by Bob Cesca on Salon. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

If you’ve only watched the clips and highlights from Donald Trump’s CPAC speech last Saturday, you’re not getting the full picture of the explosive horror show that is the worsening status of the president’s mental health. For reasons that defy comprehension, I decided to watch the whole thing live. At the outset, I tweeted that given the Michael Cohen testimony in the immediate rear-view mirror, Trump’s CPAC speech was going to be “next level crazy.” In hindsight, I feel like I low-balled it.

Before we continue, I’d like to emphasize that I’m not a mental health professional, nor am I an expert in the pharmacological effects of cognitive enhancers like Adderall or Provigil to make a judgment call on the specifics of what’s wrong with the president. However, I can say with confidence that something’s extraordinarily wrong with him, and it’s only getting more dangerous for the nation and by extension the world as time advances.

At CPAC, Trump ricocheted from his prepared teleprompter remarks into what can only be described as a herky-jerky, stream-of-conscious creepshow -- a Willy Wonka ride into the dark, twisted world of Trump’s increasingly haunted and scattered brain. There was sweaty red-faced performance art; American flag leg-humping; bizarre and often shouty anecdotes leading nowhere; insults and obscenities directed at his enemies, both real and imagined; mean-spirited attempts at jokes; unabridged fear-mongering about infanticide and murderous immigrants; bug-eyed facial contortions more terrifying than the Momo Challenge; and other kneejerk outbursts that defy description.

I say, for as I have said before, I haven´t seen Donald Trump´s speech of two hours, and I think I still will not do so, both because of Trump and my strong dislike of seeing yet another politicial idiot lying, but there are some differences between Bob Cesca and myself, for although I too am ¨not a mental health professional, nor am I an expert in the pharmacological effects of cognitive enhancers¨ I am a psychologist, with extensive experience of one mad - schizophrenic - person.

Also, I diagnosed (is, I think, the proper term) Trump more than three years ago as a megalomaniac (which is the English term for the psychiatrese ¨narcissistic personality disorder¨) and I still think that was the best diagnosis I could make either then or now.

And I believe Bob Cesca. Here is some more by him:

The president is unfit to continue serving. This is a crisis.

Indeed, no president before and especially since Trinity has acted like this in public until Trump. Why? It’s chiefly because presidents with access to weapons of mass destruction, specifically an American nuclear arsenal that could destroy the world a thousand times over, are elected partly based on their sobriety and mental stability. We need our presidents to have immensely sound judgment so that the use of the aforementioned nuclear codes is preceded by sound thought, emotional clarity and informed deliberation. Trump appears to possess none of these traits. Nor is he inclined to even fake it. His judgment was never stellar (ask any New Yorker) and it’s only disintegrating further as the rigors of the job worsen while law enforcement closes in.

I again mostly agree, although I do not think myself that American presidents have been ¨elected partly based on their sobriety and mental stability¨, although undoubtedly these considerations have played a role, with some.

Anyway. Here is some more:

Again, I don’t possess the psychological expertise to diagnose whether his behavior is reflective of mental illness or whether it’s a politically-motivated act for the enjoyment of the Red Hats. If it’s an act, it’s just as bad, and still perhaps indicative of a mental health condition. In and of itself, acting like a mentally ill chief executive, a Mad King, displays an absence of sound judgment, highlighting a disconnect from social and political norms, as well as telegraphing a profound degree of ignorance about why such an act is unacceptable.

Well... I think I do have ¨the psychological expertise¨ (six years of studying it plus an excellent M.A.) and I think Trump is a megalomaniac, and probably was one for a long time.

Here is some more:

If I were to quiz Fox News viewers about Trump’s unspooled madness at CPAC, I’d ask them in particular whether they’d ever accept this kind of behavior from their doctor, their kids’ teachers or their own bosses at work; whether they’d accept it from a member of the clergy or the bus driver who picks up their children for school every day. The honest response would have to be no way -- that is unless it’s okay for our doctors, mid-prostate exam, to snap off a bunch of insulting impressions of the nursing staff, followed by paranoid threats about Hollywood types and racist blurts about competing physicians. As indoctrinated into the Fox News cult as they are, I don’t believe they’d be OK with that. And if it’s unacceptable conduct for their doctors and teachers, why on earth is it acceptable for a world leader cloaked in immense power and backed by the most powerful military in the history of civilization?

Yes indeed. And this is the proper and commonsensical way of asking yourself when you are neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist nor a medical doctor whether somebody might be mad (insane etc.): Does his behavior and his words correspond to the behavior and the words of people who are sane? And Cesca is quite right Trump´s behavior and his words are quite extra-ordinary, both for a president and for a non-president.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The normalization of Trump's unpredictable, spasmodic presidency, as well as the fact that so many of us don’t have the stomach to tolerate two-plus hours of watching him, are perhaps the only reasons why more Americans aren’t gathered as we speak, devising how best to legally remove him from office. For what it’s worth, I propose here and now that this conversation must begin in earnest.

Trump’s obvious mental instability and emotionally erratic behavior has reached a harrowing new depth. They need to be addressed by our political leadership with the same urgency as the myriad investigations into his crimes. This has to begin now before it’s too late. He will clearly do and say whatever it takes to secure his status, and it’s the presidency alone that’s keeping him out of federal prison. He’s at least competent enough to understand this, and he might be crazy enough to do anything to avoid accountability.
Yes, I mostly agree - but then I did so first over three years ago, and did so as a psychologist who knows how little most non-psychologists know of either psychology or madness. And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Cornel West on Bernie, Trump, and Racism

This article is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

In 2015, Bernie Sanders was an insurgent candidate — an outsider and underdog with little money and very little name recognition. Four years later, he finds himself a frontrunner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and one of the most popular politicians in America. Many have attributed Sanders’ loss to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries to a poor showing among black voters, and Sanders has since worked hard to make inroads there, incorporating themes of racial discrimination and inequality into his campaign messaging. Yet questions persist about whether or not Bernie Sanders has a “race problem.” One of Sanders’ most prominent African-American surrogates in his last run for the White House was philosopher and political activist Dr. Cornel West, who continues to argue that black America should embrace “Brother Bernie.” On this week’s show, Mehdi Hasan and West discuss Sanders’ presidential chances and how he has progressed on race issues.

Yes indeed. Here is some more:

Mehdi Hasan: Welcome to Deconstructed. I’m Mehdi Hasan. I’m excited today, and I hope you are too, because my guest is someone very special, who I’ve been wanting to interview for a while now, and not just because he appeared in the Matrix movies. He’s one of the most prominent supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders, who formally declared his candidacy for president of the United States this past weekend.

CW: He’s an anti-racist in his heart. He has a consistency over the years, decade after decade, going to jail in Chicago as a younger brother, and he would go to jail again. He and I would go to jail together again.

Yes, I think Cornel West is right about that: Bernie Sanders is one of the very few American politicians who is credible as a real leftist and as democratic socialist, for the simple reason that he has been a real leftist and a democratic socialist for over 40 years.

Here is some more from the article:

MH: (..) You, Dr. West, famously endorsed brother Bernie over Hillary Clinton back in 2016. Will you be backing him again this time around?

CW: Well, as you know, I was blessed to do over a hundred events for my dear brother. And this is the first time I’ve had a chance to publicly endorse him again, but yes, indeed. I’ll be in his corner that we’re going to win this time. And it has to do with the Martin Luther King like criteria of assessing a candidate namely the issues of militarism, poverty, materialism, and racism, xenophobia in all of its forms that includes any kind of racism as you know against black people, brown people, yellow people, anybody, Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, Kashmirians, Tibetans and so forth. So that there’s no doubt that my dear brother Bernie stands shoulders above any of the other candidates running in the Democratic primary when it comes to that Martin Luther King-like standards or criteria.

Yes indeed: I completely agree. Here is some more:

CW: (..) I mean, I have respect for my dear sister Elizabeth Warren. I’ve got love for Cory. I’ve known brother Cory Booker for 20 some, 25 years or so. And he’s a liberal and I, you know, I’m more than a liberal but I can still love my brother. Elizabeth Warren is very progressive. I respect my dear sister. But Bernie Sanders is the best that we have of this group and he’s the real thing in terms of being consistent.

Yes, I agree on Elizabeth Warren but do not know enough about Cory Booker. Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

MH: (..) I’ve got to ask the age question. What do you say to critics who say Bernie Sanders is too old to be present? You can’t have a president who’s 79 at the start of his first term and 83 at the start of his second. What’s your response to them?

CW: Now, I say Bernie Sanders, he’s full of fire, full of energy, in good health, and there’s no doubt that he can put in four, if not eight, actually.

I more or less agree, although I probably would have answered differently, namely as follows: It may become a problem, but there is no sign of that as yet, and you have to compare the alternative, which is four years of an utterly irresponsible madman as president. And ths is a strongly recommended article.

3. Donald Trump's Nuclear Doctrine Threatens Human Life on Earth

This article is by Nate Singham on Truthdig and originally on the Independent Media Institute. This starts as follows:

President Donald Trump has made some very significant policy decisions since entering office that have undermined nuclear non-proliferation on a global level. The two most notable examples include Trump’s withdrawal from a key bilateral nuclear weapons treaty with Russia and his decision to leave the Iranian nuclear deal.

Trump announced this January that he would initiate a six-month withdrawal process that would see the United States quitting the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia, claiming a number of violations by that country.

The United States has alleged that Russia has been violating the terms of the INF agreement for several years with the expansion and deployment of 2,000 km-range nuclear-capable ground-launched missiles, also referred to as SSC-8 by NATO.

These claims have been repeatedly rejected by Moscow.

Yes indeed. Here is some more:

In response to Trump’s announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin fired back by saying that the Kremlin would exit the Cold War-era treaty, which restricts both countries from deploying missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

The situation is compounded by the fact that the New START agreement, a separate bilateral treaty, which limits the stockpiles and launch platforms that both countries can deploy, is due to expire in 2021, with neither country is likely to renegotiate.

In light of these trends, during the 2019 UN Conference on Disarmament, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres encouraged the United States and Russia to extend the New START treaty, describing it as “one of the hallmarks of international security for 50 years.”

During his remarks, the Secretary-General went on to warn, “I will be blunt. Key components of the international arms control architecture are collapsing.”

Given the current policy direction, peace activists have been quick to point out that for the first time in half a century, U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals will not be bound to any bilaterally negotiated oversights.

Yes indeed. Incidentally, there are statistics in this article, which I will partially summarize. This concerns the estimated global nuclear warheads in November 2018:

        Country                   Number of nuclear warheads   
        Russia                  6850
        USA                     6450
        France                  300
        China                   280
        United Kingdom      115
        Israel                   80
        North Korea           20

I do not know how correct this is, but it looks decent (and indeed many are estimates rather than certainties).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

In short, these aggressive and short-sighted policy gestures by Donald Trump have sparked serious concern among nuclear non-proliferation advocates that such decisions could trigger a chain reaction of nuclear proliferation in various non-nuclear states, most notably Saudi Arabia, Turkey, South Korea, and Japan.

The renewal of the nuclear arms race carries the threat of our extinction.

“We are one mechanical, electronic or human error away from a catastrophe that could eradicate entire cities from the map,” Guterres noted while speaking at a disarmament conference in Geneva.

Yes indeed. And this is a strongly recommended article.

4. The Propaganda Multiplier

This article is by Swiss Propaganda Research. It was first published in 2016, but it only now got translated by Terje Maloy. Also, it is much too long to be excerpted properly on NL, but it is quite interesting. It starts as follows:

It is one of the most important aspects of our media system – and yet hardly known to the public: most of the international news coverage in Western media is provided by only three global news agencies based in New York, London and Paris.

The key role played by these agencies means that Western media often report on the same topics, even using the same wording. In addition, governments, military and intelligence services use these global news agencies as multipliers to spread their messages around the world.

A study of the Syria war coverage by nine leading European newspapers clearly illustrates these issues: 78% of all articles were based in whole or in part on agency reports, yet 0% on investigative research. Moreover, 82% of all opinion pieces and interviews were in favor of the US and NATO intervention, while propaganda was attributed exclusively to the opposite side.

Yes, I think all of the above is quite correct. Here is more from the article:

So what are the names of these news agencies that are “always at the source of the story”? There are now only three global agencies left:

  • The American Associated Press (AP) with over 4000 employees worldwide. The AP belongs to US media companies and has its main editorial office in New York. AP news is used by around 12,000 international media outlets, reaching more than half of the world’s population every day.
  • The quasi-governmental French Agence France-Presse (AFP) based in Paris and with around 4000 employees. The AFP sends over 3000 stories and photos every day to media all over the world.
  • The British agency Reuters in London, which is privately owned and employs just over 3000 people. Reuters was acquired in 2008 by Canadian media entrepreneur Thomson – one of the 25 richest people in the world – and merged into Thomson Reuters, headquartered in New York.

In addition, many countries run their own news agencies. However, when it comes to international news, these usually rely on the three global agencies and simply copy and translate their reports.

Yes, I think again all of the above is quite correct. Here is some more:

In fact, not only the text, but also the images, sound and video recordings that we encounter in our media every day, are mostly from the very same agencies. What the uninitiated audience might think of as contributions from their local newspaper or TV station, are actually copied reports from New York, London and Paris.

Some media have even gone a step further and have, for lack of resources, outsourced their entire foreign editorial office to an agency.
In the end, this dependency on the global agencies creates a striking similarity in international reporting: from Vienna to Washington, our media often report the same topics, using many of the same phrases – a phenomenon that would otherwise rather be associated with »controlled media« in authoritarian states.

Again I think all of the above is correct - and here is a whole lot more, namely nearly 200 Kb, and it is all very strongly recommended.

5. Big Brother Steps Closer as Parents Shackle Teens to Ankle Monitors

This article is by Jean Trounstine on Truthout. It starts as follows:

A perfect example of George Orwell’s terrifying view of a society under government surveillance has arrived in the form of ankle monitors for your teens.

For parents who “need to keep track of [their] teenager at all times,” Tampa Bay Monitoring in Clearwater, Florida, is selling GPS tracking — similar to the shackles used to track those on parole — billed as a way for parents to have “peace of mind” and for so-called troubled teens to have “protection.” Never mind that these monitors function as a form of private surveillance, enabling parents and anyone else with access to shadow a teen’s every move. Besides, these devices can be uncomfortable and can cause problems at airports, hospitals and schools, and many people have concerns about where all the tracking information goes and who has access to it.

Yes, I think the above is quite correct. And as to the ¨many people [who] have concerns about where all the tracking information goes and who has access to it¨: I think all ¨security organizations¨ of any country which has them, and Google, Facebook and probably several hundreds more of rich corporations also will know everything about the teens who have been shackled with these horrible tools.

Here is more on spying on children and teens:

Tampa Bay Monitoring isn’t the only company in on the action. Such for-profit companies have proliferated. The company GPS Monitoring Solutions in Arizona and California says that it, too, will gladly provide parents with login credentials to their monitoring center so they can track their children. AngelSense is using monitors to supposedly “[create] a safer world” for teens with disabilities, and SafetyNet says it is using law enforcement and radio frequency for the purpose of “protecting people and locating the lost.”

As carceral technology extends itself further and further into family life, we must ask if such intrusive information-gathering is a substitute for solving the underlying issues.

One thing is for sure: Orwell’s famous words in his dystopian novel, 1984, are all the more relevant in 2019, and all the more ominous: “Big Brother is watching you.”

Yes indeed - and besides: Orwell could not have dreamed of the horrors the internet enables. It is all much worse than he ever thought, indeed not because he was irrealistic, but because he died in 1950.

And this article ends (after a lot more) as follows:

What is clear is that we are surveilling our loved ones to squelch fears of drug abuse, abduction, runaways and harmful behaviors, instead of addressing drug policy, poverty, ableism and other forms of social alienation.

Well, yes - but who would want to surveil their teens with tools that are so far only used for adult people who merited prison sentences, where these tools differ from the tools used for people who merited prison sentences in that they share their information not only with the parents but with hundreds of others, who may do what they please with it?! And this is a strongly recommended article.

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 3 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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